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HC asks for action report

- Steps to save hills from encroachment

Dec. 4: Gauhati High Court today asked the Kamrup (metro) district administration, GMC and the GMDA to submit action-taken reports for solving the city’s hills encroachment problem by April 1 next year.

A division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Goel and Justice N. Kotiswar Singh issued the directions during hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL 36/2011) today.

The court took suo moto cognisance of the PIL after a resident of Kharghuli, Kalyani Bhattacharya, wrote to Chief Justice of the high court complaining against encroachment of a natural stream on Kharghuli hills last year.

The court included hills encroachments and the government’s step to solve the problem in the PIL and issued notices to the GMC, GMDA and the Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner.

Additional advocate-general Devajit Saikia said following the court’s order on September 24, Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner Ashutosh Agnihotri, GMDA chief executive officer M. Angamuthu and GMC commissioner Kavitha V. Padmanabhan today personally appeared before the division bench and submitted their affidavits.

“In today’s affidavits, the district administration informed the court that according to a survey conducted by AC Nielsen, a private research firm engaged by the administration, there are 65,894 households who are living on 16 hills encircling the city.

Of these households, 71 per cent are living on government lands, 18 per cent on forest lands and the rest are residing on patta land.

“The administration also informed the court that it had already stopped issuing permissions for new buildings on the city’s hills and a committee was keeping a watch on fresh encroachments and was taking action accordingly,” Saikia said.

The court, during its last hearing on September 24 had expressed unhappiness over the administration’s response to its order issued on July 19 and said it was not taking the matter seriously.

An additional deputy commissioner had submitted an affidavit but the court had said: “There does not appear to be any application of mind in filing the affidavit. The matter has not been taken seriously in spite of orders of this court. There is no indication of extent of encroachment identified much less the removal thereof.”

The court then directed the deputy commissioner, CEO of GMDA and the GMC commissioner to personally appear before the court.

Saikia said the district administration today also informed the court that the government had constituted a committee led by Bhumidhar Barman to look into the problems of settlement and land patta. The committee was constituted after an anti-eviction rally at Dispur Last Gate turned violent last year.